His tender and sweet optimism juxtaposes his brutal past in the Civil War, yet “1883’s” Thomas (Lamonica Garrett) is a complex character. And he quickly became a fan-favorite. The gentle cowboy quietly leads – and he does it through example. The character is something that Garrett is all too happy to portray, especially what Thomas means for “black cowboy culture.”
The “1883” star has often been outspoken about portraying an African American in the 19th-century American west. Especially in a Civil War-era environment. Though black cowboys existed within the history of pioneers, that wasn’t something displayed on television when Western films were on the rise.
For this reason, Garrett is extremely grateful he gets to bring that representation to Taylor Sheridan’s “Yellowstone” spinoff.
Speaking in an interview with ABC Audio, Garrett opened up about African American culture existing in the West in the late 1880s.
“He’s a Black cowboy with a badge and a gun,” Garrett says. “Sign me up to see what that’s about in that time period regardless of what else is going on!”
“We were one-in-four cowboys back in the day and that wasn’t shown in television, film and Hollywood,” Garrett adds. “There’s so many stories, there’s so many legends in the Black cowboy culture that have never seen the light of day.”
“1883” Star Speaks About Representation in Westerns
He continues to describe representation in Western films.
“And you don’t realize, growing up that you didn’t really see people that looked like you on these shows,” he says. “So doing the research and you realize the representation that wasn’t there all throughout these years in a genre that I love…It’s huge. Like you see this gaping hole that we weren’t a part of.”
Further, Thomas’ story takes a turn as he helps lead the pioneers towards Oregon with Capt. Shea Brennan (Sam Elliott). He meets an immigrant woman who knows very little about surviving bandits or shooting guns. However, Thomas takes her under his wing. The two embark on a gentle and loving relationship. Thomas can no sooner deny his love for Noemi (Gratiela Brancusi) than he can his reason for heading west. And he falls in love.
Garrett speaks about the intricate relationships that Thomas forges along his journey. The “1883” star shares how his portrayal is unique to anyone else’s experience in the wagon party.
“To bring Thomas to life, this strong character with dignity, and pride, and strength…and he has his own code that he lives by and if you cross it, he takes care of it.”
There are only two episodes of “1883” left. With the clan having just left Colorado, it’s unclear if they’ll make their destination before the season ends. However, we’re all in luck, because it was announced earlier that more episodes of “1883” are expected.